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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Spurs get a visit tonight from an Oklahoma City Thunder team that’s currently just outside the Western Conference Playoff picture 

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

With 16 games left in their regular season, the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves in the lower rungs of the Western Conference playoff bubble, with a difficult road ahead now as they try to play catch-up. OKC kicked off the post-All Star Break portion of their schedule (5th easiest in the league at the time) with 5 straight losses. Overall, they’re just 3-6 in the 9 games since the break and sit in 12th place as of this writing.

Not all of that is entirely their fault, though. The Thunder, who are just 2 games back in the loss column of the currently 7th seeded Golden State Warriors, have largely been without the services of first time All Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander since the All Star Game. Gilgeous-Alexander has spent the post-Break period dealing with a variety of injuries, only recently making his return to the court. It’s been thanks to his stellar play this year that the Thunder even find themselves in a position to claim a playoff spot.

The San Antonio Spurs come into tonight’s game coming off a surprising 128-120 win over the West-leading Denver Nuggets in San Antonio on Friday night. The sellout home crowd was treated to another glimpse of what the Spurs future could be, with big performances coming from the 2022-2023 season’s usual suspects. San Antonio is set to miss the postseason altogether this year, but picking up those occasional wins against good competition can only inspire confidence in the key pieces of this group, both for the rest of this season and beyond.

San Antonio Spurs (15-47) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (31-35)

March 12, 2023 | 6:00 PM CT

Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Keldon Johnson (left foot - questionable), Jeremy Sochan (knee - questionable)

Thunder Injuries: Kenrich Williams (wrist - OUT), Chet Holgreen (foot - OUT)

What to watch for

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has carried OKC during his breakout season. He’s averaging 31.2 points per game, one of 6 players this season averaging at least 30 points. They’ve sorely missed him as he’s rehabbed from his injuries, but the time off doesn’t seem to have slowed him down, as he’s gone for 38 and 33 points respectively in his first 2 games back from injury.
  • Malaki Branham has continued to receive a healthy dose of minutes for the Spurs even with the return of Devin Vassell. He’s struggled a bit with his shot this month, especially the 3 ball. After taking 5 and hitting 2 a game throughout February, he’s attempting under 2 shots from behind the arc and shooting 21% in March.
  • 2nd year wing Josh Giddey has been OKC’s second leading scorer behind Shai this year and their leading assist man. He’s averaging 16 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.2 assists a game. He’s upped his field goal % from his rookie season from 41% to 48%, but is still struggling from behind the arc at just 31%. Giddey notched a career-high 17 assists Wednesday night against the Warriors as part of a 17-11-17 triple double.
  • The Thunder rank 5th in the NBA this season in turnovers per game with 12.8 a contest. The Spurs, meanwhile, are 26th in turnovers, which puts them at 26th.
  • Gregg Popovich opted to bring Tre Jones off the bench in the win over the Nuggets, just the 2nd time in 55 appearances this season that Jones has suited up as a reserve. Whether or not that will be Jones main role for the rest of this season when everyone is available remains to be seen.

For the Thunder fan’s perspective, please visit Welcome to Loud City.

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